Alberta Politics
Duncan Kinney, Director of Progress Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Progress Alberta wins injunction against Kenney Government, which tried to ban progressive news site from budget lockup

Posted on February 26, 2020, 11:19 pm
6 mins

Progress Alberta has been granted an emergency injunction by a judge of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ordering the Alberta Government to permit the news site’s representative to attend the provincial pre-budget lockup in Edmonton tomorrow.

The Edmonton-based progressive news and advocacy organization sought the emergency injunction after it was informed on Monday by government officials its application to attend the lockup had been rejected on the grounds “your organization has been reviewed and determined to be an advocacy organization. As such, your request for media accreditation as been denied. The media embargo is for members of the media only.”

Corey Hogan, lately managing director of the Communications and Engagement Office of the Ministry of Treasury Board and Finance, in a completely different role a long, long time ago (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

After considering arguments for Progress Alberta made by Edmonton lawyer Heidi Besuijen, Mr. Justice Paul Belzil granted the injunction this afternoon, ordering the government to admit Progress Alberta Director Duncan Kinney to tomorrow afternoon’s lockup and awarding Progress Alberta $2,000 in costs.

“Progress Alberta will attend the media budget lockup tomorrow,” Mr. Kinney told this afternoon. “The judge said we ‘qualify as a media organization.’”

“Taking the Alberta government to court and winning is extremely satisfying,” he added. “Excluding us from the lockup was clearly an arbitrary and political decision, and when government starts deciding who is and who isn’t media, we all lose.”

“This is an important press freedom and freedom of expression case, and I’m glad we took it on and won,” Mr. Kinney concluded. “The cherry on top is the $2,000 in costs that was awarded.”

In Progress Alberta’s filings with the court, Mr. Kinney said that despite publishing regular news and commentary about Alberta politics to a list of about 12,000 subscribers, he believed his organization had been excluded from the lockup in retaliation for reporting unfavourably on the Kenney Government during the 2019 election campaign.

Edmonton Lawyer Heidi Besuijen (Photo: Reynolds, Mirth, Richards and Farmer LLP).

In addition, he said he believed the decision was politically motivated by his announcement last month that an attorney for Progress Alberta had sent a letter to Alberta Energy Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan demanding that he immediately end what critics have termed a political inquisition.

Progress Alberta’s complaint in that case was is based in part on the argument the organization has repeatedly been targeted by Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government, both during the provincial election last spring and since, “with false accusations that our group was a part of a conspiracy, working in league with American foundations, to sabotage Alberta’s economy.”

Mr. Kinney noted that Progress Alberta was previously granted admission as media to a budget lockup in 2019, and that other media organizations that have clear advocacy objectives had been admitted to this year’s lockup. “I am advised by my counsel … that counsel for the Respondent has advised my counsel that amongst those who received media accreditation were the Toronto Star and Grandin Media,” he said in his affidavit filed with the court.

“The Toronto Star espouses the Atkinson Principles which form the basis upon which that media outlet operates and it clearly has some aspect of advocacy to its work,” the affidavit said. “Grandin Media is an organization with links to the Archdiocese of Edmonton which aims to tell ‘inspiring stories of Catholic life.’”

Mr. Kinney also told the court Progress Alberta was given no opportunity to address government officials before the decision was made and that he was provided with no information about how it was made.

A sworn statement by the managing director of the Communications and Engagement Office of the Ministry of Treasury Board and Finance, filed yesterday in response to the Progress Alberta action, said “the decision to deny Progress Alberta access to the media embargo was not made on any political consideration or in any way politically motivated.”

“Progress Alberta was denied access to the media embargo as it was determined that it may not have the same incentive as other approved media organizations with relation to breaking news and complying with embargo rules to guarantee future access to the media embargo,” Corey Hogan’s affidavit said.

“Both the Toronto Star and Grandin Media engage in breaking news and have an incentive to abide by the embargo rules so they may continue to receive advanced access to government information,” Mr. Hogan said in the affidavit. He said the previous admission of Progress Alberta had been made in error.

By coincidence, Mr. Hogan, who was originally appointed by the previous NDP Government, is expected to permanently leave his government post on Friday.

2 Comments to: Progress Alberta wins injunction against Kenney Government, which tried to ban progressive news site from budget lockup

  1. Just Me

    February 27th, 2020

    While the success of this injunction is laudable, Progress Alberta’s voice of reason will certainly be swamped by the UCP’s favoured media outs – Postmedia, Rebelmedia, Western Standard, and maybe a few others. And if the CEC war room sends someone, then we can be pretty much assured that the highly-bent pro-Kenney coverage will be ramped up to hyper speed. Of course, this will also include the usual assaults on the CBC, MSM, and PMJT in the budget speech aftermath.

    So, there can be no doubt that the budget will present some very, very, VERY optimistic targets for oil prices ($292/bbl) at least a dozen new pipelines, two brand new massive oil sands projects, and a brand new conservative federal government in 2020, because Justin Trudeau and the entire Liberal caucus will be caught in the Pizzagate dragnet c/o Trump_45.

    The crazy is just getting started.

  2. Bill Malcolm

    February 27th, 2020

    This and the rest of the kenney imperium is the closest thing we have to government by diktat in the country today. Moreover, it’s becoming a scam on the Charter of Rights. If you have to go before a judge to get an injunction to force a recalcitrant bunch of bozos supposedly democratically elected to recognize those rights, then what the hell is the point of having a Charter of Rights in the first place?

    Liberal democracy ( and no I don’t mean the party but the general term as used everywhere but our increasingly blinkered and clodhopper Canadian society) has as its basis the recognition of minority rights. It certainly does not mean that the majority get to trample over the minority(s) – the exact opposite is the case. It’s fundamental. But as we have seen, try telling Conservatives and the UCP that. So undereducated are these people, or so determined to not give a damn about freedom, they gallivant about making dictatorial decisions with apparent impunity, because they do not observe the heretofore generally accepted codes of conduct. Apparently one has to spell it out to/for these jackasses so that there cannot be any question of interpretation their cunning minds come up with to operate with authoritarian impunity.

    We have in place environmental reviews, however watered down by harper federally. Why not take the next logical step, and put in place proposed legislative review? All that means is that all proposed legislation has to pass the smell test of being in accord with the Charter and past Acts and legal decisions — PRIOR to being presented as a Bill in either the Commons or provincial legislatures. Can anyone object to such a law in our supposed aystem of government? It’s the adult thing to do if the children get wayward and obstreperous. I imagine that your average citizen thinks that is the current situation anyway, despite it being increasingly obvious that it is not to closer observers of the political scene. And if any given politician disagrees, then it becomes obvious who the wannabe gerrymanderers are. A lot of waffle about restricting their freedom of action becomes a signal that they are not interested in citizen freedom, merely their own. Furthermore, if any new government decides it is going to rescind such legislation, it also becomes obvious that they are not on the up-and-up.

    Surely legal legislation is the very least we can expect from our elected representatives or those running for office? It’s basic. It’s also sad that such has to now be spelled out in 2020 for the more authoritarian-minded dopes who decide to run for public office who haven’t the basic knowledge a Grade 10 Civics class provides, yet propose to run the place according to pure whim and whipped-up emotion of the masses to trample the rights of others.

    At the present time, why do citizens or organizations have to sue government to recognize rights they already have? It’s beyond me. The way things are these days with omnibus bills and idiots elected as premiers who disregard the law as it stands, we might as well be governed by dictators. Whether or not there is a woof woof public majority in any given jurisdiction who blindly agree with the government posture on any given issue is immaterial and beside the point. That is NOT the system of government we supposedly have, and desperate gerrymandering by the right to change things for their convenience, or hiding legislation in paragraph 2,867 of an omnibus bill by lazy cunning PMO staffers in the federal government of whatever political stripe is not acceptable.

    In Alberta, where the cabinet seems from afar to be composed of low-cunning yes-men and yes-women who parrot the musings of a would-be dictator without having a single thought of their own, where there is already a de-facto Propaganda Ministry known locally as the War Room, the need to rein in authoritarian stupidity seems paramount at the moment. Or one day soon, the majority will find themelves scuppered on some issue or another, and will look around desperately for relief and not be able to find it.


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